Friday, 29 August 2014

The temporary prefab museum needs your help!

The Prefab Museum has won a reprieve from closure. The Prefab Museum, Britain’s only museum to document post-war prefabricated housing, is curated by Elisabeth Blanchet, a French photographer. However the museum is not funded and is under threat of temporary closure due to lack of money while the outcome of funding applications is awaited.

To support the museum, its work and volunteers, please donate via our Kickstarter campaign:

For more information, please see

The wonder of these ‘prefabs’ is that they were meant to last just 10 years to alleviate a post-war housing shortage but people really fell in love with them and have been fighting tooth and nail to make sure that they remain living in them. With the help of the Arts Council, Elisabeth has been photographing both residents and their homes and collecting their stories for more than a decade. 

The biggest remaining prefab estate is Excalibur in Catford, South London, where Elisabeth has been lent an empty prefab to create a Prefab Museum about the history of the estate and prefabricated living. The museum features her photography and documentary film, as well as the work of other artists who are interested in prefabs. 

The museum has attracted more than 2,000 visitors to the area so far – and much like the prefabs themselves, popular opinion has ensured that the museum, which started as a temporary initiative, has now been approved by Lewisham Council and will remain in place until at least 2017. 

The same cannot be said for the prefab homes on Excalibur. Of 186, more than 30 have already been knocked down to make space for redevelopment. Despite campaigns by their residents, the prefabs are slowly losing their battle for survival so Elisabeth is determined to record this part of our social and architectural history for posterity. 

The Prefab Museum is the focal point around which we organise historical tours around the estate and it is always staffed by knowledgable volunteers and residents who have popped in for a cup of tea and a chat. The Prefab Museum is a unique experience where visitors stay longer than they have planned to, share ideas and stories, come out inspired and often come back! 

The Prefab Museum is part of Open House weekend (20/21 September) and we anticipate an influx of visitors!

Some comments from visitors: 

‘Thank you for taking the time to put on this exhibition. It has been a very emotional experience and brings many happy memories.’

 ‘A real piece of British post-war history. We are privileged to see this remainder (and reminder!).’

The Prefab Museum is open every Saturday from 11am to 5pm. 

17 Meliot Road, Catford, SE6 1RY, London

Here are our Autumn events:

Opening Times:

Saturdays 11:00 -17:00 till 01/11/2014
Every other Saturday 11:00-16:00 from 01/11/2014 till 28/02/2015

Groups welcome by appointment

Autumn Events:

Open House Weekend 20/09 and 21/09 10:00-17:00 

Excalibur Estate Tour 18/10 from 14:30
Launch of Elisabeth Blanchet’s book Prefab Homes 25/10 from 14:30 

Mystery Tour 31/10 from 18:00
Excalibur Estate Tour 15/11 from 14:30
Knick-Knack Tea Party 29/11 from 13:00
Christmas Party 13/12 from 13:00

New Whitefoot Community Gardens

In a lovely location on a hillside in Oldstead Road with views towards Crystal Palace and Forest Hill, a new community garden emerges.

Whitefoot & Downham Community Food + Project was awarded funding from Phoenix Community Chest in June 2014 to set up a community garden. The project will see local residents and users/volunteers of the Community Food Plus Project in Whitefoot building and cultivating a community garden on an existing allotment site at Oldstead Road. It will include volunteer days, healthy cooking sessions, social events, and skills training for young Phoenix residents.

Whitefoot & Downham Community Food + Project is a voluntary community based project to support people or families who are experiencing hardship and issues relating to poverty. More details about the project here.
Councillor Janet Daby, Chair of the Whitefoot & Downham Community Food + Project

On Friday 1st August Ruth Webber from Downham Nutrition Partnership and I attended the inaugural day of the community garden. The sun was shining and everyone, young and old, was busy filling and planting up the raised beds, putting together the greenhouse and generally having a lovely time.

Large raised beds being filled and planted by enthusiastic volunteers!
Alex raking the soil prior to planting
Janet, Margaret and Stuart having fun with the hose
Imogen offering a big pot of blackberries to Ruth
Imogen helping to plant

Are you a local person, group or organisation that would like to be involved in a new community garden in Whitefoot Ward, helping local people to learn about food growing and gardening?

Andrew and Jackie fill up the raised beds
Lucy shows the children a frog!
Sally Ann sorting out the hanging baskets in front of the 'homestead'
Group photo complete with wheelbarrows
If you would like to get involved please get in touch with the Project Co-ordinator Tony Rich on 07905 164 705 or email

Thursday, 24 July 2014

Summer fun in Whitefoot, Downham and Lewisham

Down in the dumps?

Are you concerned about fly tipping, dog fouling and abandoned vehicles in Downham? It's one of the Whitefoot Local Assembly priorities and regularly comes up as a topic at assembly meetings. Heidi Alexander, MP for Lewisham East, is hosting a Don't Dump in Downham - Cleaner Streets Summit from 11am on Saturday 26 July at the Green Man, 355 Bromley Road SE6. All are welcome.

Are you a local person or organisation that could be involved in helping set up new community gardens in Whitefoot?

Supported by funding from Phoenix Community Housing, the Whitefoot and Downham Community Food + Project will be developing a site at Oldstead Road for local people to grow their own fruit and veg. Please get in touch with them, their launch is on 1 August 2014 from 10am - 1pm.

Activities for children and young people over the summer holidays

There are many low cost or free activities in the local area this summer. Please contact the organisations directly for more information.

Pre School Learning Alliance Lewisham, Delicious most Nutritious, Millwall Community, Goldsmiths Community Centre and Impact Matters are running Fun Young Goldsmiths, a holiday programme for 8-13 year olds.

Visit the PSLA Lewisham website for a downloadable summer timetable at their children's centres at Limelight, Torridon and Bellingham.

Phoenix Community Housing are running a number of activities across Downham, Whitefoot and Bellingham. For more details and information go to their website.

Downham Health and Leisure Centre/1Life is hosting summer fitness and fun at activity camps in Downham. The camps need to be pre-booked. More details here

Greenwich and Lewisham Young People's Theatre (GLYPT) are running Summer Arts College, three weeks of free art courses for 8-19 years old, at Bonus Pastor School, Downderry Road BR1 5PZ

Bromley and Downham Youth Club at Valeswood Road, Bromley BR1 4RD are running a summer programme in conjunction with Millwall Community.

Downderry Children's Centre also has a range of activities for children, please contact them for more details.

For activities across Lewisham visit the council's web page Summer's Alive.

Enjoy the summer!

Saturday, 10 May 2014

Events, activities and opportunities Summer 2014 - updated 8 July

Updates to this blog post

I will be updating this blog post to reflect new events in Whitefoot, Downham and the neighbourhood over the summer as I am notified of them. Please keep checking back! For general information on local groups and information, check out the Downham and Whitefoot Interagency website which hosts web pages on Whitefoot and Downham Community Food Plus Project, Downham Celebrates, local assemblies and the Prefab Museum as well as information about local facilities, events, services and news.

If you want to get the word out about your events and activities let me know - I update this blog on Friday mornings!
Like Downham and Whitefoot Interagency on Facebook
Follow @goldsmithshub on Twitter

Prefab Museum - opening hours to end September 2014

This unique and popular local museum, located in a prefab at 17 Meliot Road, SE6 1RY and celebrating prefab life has been granted a further extension until the end of summer 2014. From 7 June the museum will be open on Saturdays only from 11am - 5pm, at other times by appointment, and for London Open House on the weekend of 20-21 September.  We look forward to welcoming groups of local primary school children this summer. If you would like to book a group visit or a place on the next estate tour on 21 June, please email Elisabeth Blanchet. For up to date information on events throughout the summer, please visit Prefabs - Palaces for the People on Facebook or follow Prefab Photo Project on Twitter 

Update 7 July 2014 - demolition begins

Free workshops

Lewisham Training Kitchen is now open!
at The Green Man, 355 Bromley Road SE6 2RP
Come and cook nutritious and tasty new recipes  in this well-equipped new Lewisham Training kitchen. Join one of the free Taster cook and eat sessions at Lewisham Training Kitchen
14th July- Cooking with Brentknoll Primary School

15th July- Cooking with Watergate Primary School

17th July- Cooking for over 50 +

18th July- Food Bank Community Cooking

24th July- Disability group
To book  contact Cecilia
Or call on  0791 7651 585
follow on Twitter @LTKlovesfood

Whitefoot and Downham Community Food+ Project

Whitefoot and Downham Community Food + Project is a voluntary community based project to support people or families who are experiencing hardship and issues relating to poverty. There is a growing need for the provision due to the welfare reform act, increase in food and fuel prices. The project is available to local residents and can provide a level of food provision, housing support, health advice, employment advice, debt advice, family support, early years support and access to a Local Councillor.

Donate or volunteer! More information on the Downham and Whitefoot Interagency web page.


Advice and information

Sunday, 16 March 2014

Wonderland cafe at Goldsmiths Community Centre

will you, won't you?
In true Alice in Wonderland style this blog post is topsy turvy.
As part of our ongoing involvement with the Creative Citizens project, Community led design strand, we opened up the time bank as a Wonderland Cafe on Monday 3 March. 

The project began in earnest in March 2013 with an asset mapping workshop at the centre, followed by a co-creation event, a community walk from Grove Park to Downham, and a short trip to the other side of the world (meridian zero, which passes through Boundfield Road near the junction of Scarlet Road).

Using an iPad equipped with a microscope lens, Abigail examines the area at the grass roots level
Some clues
Some characters
Some amazing food
And drinks

View the time lapse video here

With grateful thanks to Dr Alan Outten, Helen Hamlyn Centre, Royal College of Art, for the photos and time lapse video. To Delphine and Indianna from Delicious most Nutritious for their inspired creations. To Liz, Chloe and Tracey for playing their parts so well, and to all who came along and made this event so unique and special.

Whatever next? 

Would you like to join us on our next adventure?

We will be creating a banner at Downham Celebrates, on Saturday 14 June at Downham Health and Leisure Centre, Moorside Road BR1. Please join us to celebrate Creative Citizens in Downham!